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Scientists may never fully understand why it's happening, but apparently people are still having children. As long as that remains the case, there are a couple of implications for small business. If your adventures so far have brought you to the point of employing non-robots (or non-super-evolved mutant monkeys, if you're that kind of business - and who are we to judge?), then at some point you may need to know the facts of life regarding Maternity/Paternity pay.
As things stand right now, an employee who either physically creates, produces or otherwise acquires a baby (adoption counts, but the rules are a little different) is entitled to some paid leave. During the first six weeks, a new mother is currently entitled to 90% of her average weekly earnings before tax, then £138.18 for the next 33 weeks (or 90% of their weekly earnings if that's lower). There are additional rules covering paid time off for antenatal care and other factors.
New fathers can also claim up to two weeks of Paternity Pay, and up to another 26 weeks of Additional Paternity Leave if the mother returns to work during that period. It's not quite as terrifying as it sounds. As an employer, you can actually claim back 92% of the Statutory Maternity, Paternity and Adoption pay. You may even be able to arrange to get the money in advance, if you can't afford to pay it now and claim it back later.
Of course, just to keep things interesting, the rules are about to change. From the 5th of April 2015, a new system called Shared Parental Leave is coming in. Basically, after the ordinary period of standard Maternity and Paternity Pay are over they're scrapping Additional Paternity leave as a separate thing and replacing it with the new Shared Parental Leave, which can be split between the parents (assuming they're both eligible) to give them more flexibility. There is, of course, a mountain of rules, eligibility tests and exemptions that apply all along the way - and it's worth keeping in mind that it's the employer's responsibility to check that their employees are eligible, based on the information they're given.
If you're starting to go cross-eyed over the complexity of the whole thing, and wondering if you rejected the idea of that super-evolved mutant monkey workforce a little too rashly, don't worry. RIFT Accounting is always on hand to take care of the crunchy numbers for you. Until someone invents a self-feeding, self-cleaning mini-human unit (USB-powered, for convenience), we'll always be the most reliable member of your business family.